Sunday, October 14, 2012

Turkish, Kurdish intellectuals gather under Abant Platform in Iraq

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The Abant Platform, a prominent discussion forum known for dealing with pressing issues challenging Turkey, held its second conference on the Kurdish issue in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Feb. 15, 2009. The meeting was titled "Searching for Peace and a Future Together."

Sociologists, political scientists, authors, and researchers debated common cultural values and future, mutual dependence and opportunities, and future perspective. In the meeting, over 200 intellectuals discussed relations between Turkey and the regional administration in north of Iraq.

The people of Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan should learn from their past mistakes and work for a future of friendship and peace, Arbil Gov. Nevzat Hadi said. “The border between Turkey and Iraq is Iraq’s door to Europe, and that door has never been and will never be closed,” Turkish Consul General in Mosul Hüseyin Avni Botsalı stated.

At the conference, Salahaddin University President Muhammad Sadik underlined that universities play a critical role in the improvement of science and the use of science for the public good. "But this task is not easy to perform; this is why we are hoping to cooperate more intensively with Turkish universities. This meeting of the Abant Platform will be so important to the joint future of both countries," he said.

Political science professor Mümtaz'er Türköne stated in his opening remarks that the platform had hosted meetings abroad before but that at this meeting the platform members did not feel as if they were in a foreign country.

"We are home; we don't feel like we are in a foreign country. This is due to your hospitality and also because we are the children of the same land. We are the people who find happiness in the same things, we share the same values. This is why we are considering this Abant meeting as the most important one," he said. He also recalled the existence of some maps labeling Turkey's Southeast as part of a "Kurdistan," saying that those maps are a dream to some people while a nightmare for others.

Türköne also spoke about the Abant Platform, saying it stood for democracy, tolerance and dialogue, and was welcome to all sorts of ideas as long as they were in line with the platform's opposition to violence. Speaking about the platform's previous meeting on the Kurdish question, Türköne recalled that it had underlined the importance of education in one's mother tongue, general amnesty for Kurds who are members of the separatist terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and further democratization. He said that not only these essentials, but also establishing a good relationship with the Kurdish regional administration of northern Iraq was a crucial element of any solution to the Kurdish question, adding that this was why they were in Arbil for Abant's 18th meeting.

The Kurdish question is not only Turkey's problem, but also a problem for Iraqi Kurds, since the issue has serious effect on the relationship between them and Turkey, he said: "What we want to underline is that the problem is one [belonging to] the state. There is no problem between the Kurdish and Turkish peoples. This is a political problem. We are trying to change our state, and we need your contribution to the solution of this problem."

Fethullah Gulen
Fethullah Gulen
Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen also sent a message to the Arbil meeting. In his message, Gülen said, “In the last century, the region has been object of international attention. With no bout, both war and peace are teaching different humane an international relationships and providing serious gains. In addition to the tragedy it brings, perhaps there is also a teaching, maturing aspect to war. But in the end, it is necessary to go back to societal life, in other words, to a process of normalization.”

The Abant Platform has been gathering in Turkey since 1998. It also shares its experience with several other centers. The platform held a meeting in Washington D.C. in April 2004 in cooperation with John Hopkins University; and another one was held at the European Parliament in Brussels with cooperation of Leuven University that same year.

Related Video: Abant Platforms' contribution to societal wellbeing